As Valentine’s Day approaches, the topic of love will of course be much discussed. Much of that discussion will focus on the feelings associated with love. Advice will be given on how to create the feeling of love, how to sustain the feeling, and how to rekindle the feeling of love if it begins to fade.
I am deciding to take a little different focus. I am not going to focus on the feelings of love at Valentine’s Day, but instead I’m going to focus on some “thoughts of love.” These thoughts about love apply to all expressions of love–the love of a spouse, a partner, a child, a parent or other family member, and/or a friend.
The first thought I’d like to offer about love is that love is not primarily a feeling, but rather, love is instead a decision. There are two pieces of wisdom embedded in this statement. The first is that feelings in any relationship ebb and flow. Feelings, like moods, sometimes have a cycle of their own and can seldom be trusted as a true measure of the state of a relationship. The second is that love is not just a matter of the heart, but is very much an act of the will. An exhausted parent who lovingly cares for a sick child, or an older person who becomes a caregiver to their aging spouse, is making a decision to be loving, even during times when they may not be feeling an abundance of loving feelings.
Whenever the topic of love is discussed, inevitably the discussion will turn to the idea of falling in love. Movies, books, and television shows often focus on, and celebrate the “falling in love” stage of a relationship. If a person knew nothing else about love except what the media portrays, one would think that falling in love was what love must be like all the time. Anyone who has been in love, of course knows differently. The head over heals rush of falling in love is as powerful and wonderful as it is transitory. So given the fact that falling in love is such a small phase of any relationship, I would like to invite us to reflect on the importance of what comes after falling in love and that is learning to stand in love. Standing in love is an extension of the idea that love is not just a feeling, but also a decision. Regardless of what we may or may not be feeling we can make a decision to stand in love in any relationship.
Some of the most beautiful words ever written about love do not talk about the feeling of love or falling in love at all, but instead about what it means to stand in love.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13
This description of love refers to a series of decisions that we can choose to make each day. We can decide to be patient and kind. We can decide to not be irritable or rude. We can decide to endure and to believe.
So this Valentine’s Day, let’s not just focus on falling in love. Let’s also recommit ourselves to standing in love, as we make the decision to better love the family and friends that we are blessed to have in our lives.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Decide to make it a great day!